- Last Updated: 11:30 AM, June 10, 2012
- Posted: 12:39 AM, June 10, 2012
Baseball cap: check.
Mets jersey: check.
Fake moustache: check.
That’s the pre-game ritual of Craig Coakley, 32, of Bayside, Queens — better known in Mets nation as the streaker who slid into second base at a game during Citi Field’s inaugural season.
The die-hard fan has been officially banned from games since the 2009 spectacle — but has covertly defied a stadium edict in order to root, root, root for the home team in person.
“My streaking days are over now, and I just go to enjoy the games,” he said.
The ban did little to slow down Coakley, who now attends games in sunglasses, caps and other costumes — taking a page from former Mets skipper Bobby Valentine, who momentarily sneaked back into the dugout in a sunglasses-and-moustache disguise after an umpire ejected him from a game in 1999.
“I went to games four weeks later,” Coakley boasted. “And I was just at a game on Memorial Day!”
Last week, he added a fake beard to his collection, giving him the appearance of a sporty Abe Lincoln.
Back in 2009, when Coakley, a plumber, decided to crack wise, he painted “Let’s Go Mets” on his bare back, positioned a stuffed monkey to cover his . . . er . . . “bat,” and darted onto the field during the fifth inning of a game.
A friend videotaped the stunt from the upper deck.
Coakley was arrested, fined $3,000, sentenced to 20 days of community service and, worst of all, banned for life from Citi Field.
“I wanted to become part of Mets history,” he said.
That’s a sentiment expressed by many of the banned bunch — interlopers, mostly men, who say they’re inspired by their peers and rarely concerned that stadium security will catch them.
But most do care about getting back into the ballpark.
While fines can be paid and jail time served, losing the team they love is often the real punishment — and many of the banned risk further punishment by returning.
Coakley’s “where there’s a will, there’s a way” disguise may offer some small comfort to Rafael Diaz Jr., the latest Mets fan to be banned for life from Citi Field, for running onto the diamond to celebrate with the team after Johan Santana’s no-hitter on June 1.